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Piccadilly Circus Dawn UTOPIA REVIEW PROOF

Design for acceptance and adoption in urban environments

From folk tales of flying carpets to appearances in science-fiction movies, autonomous vehicles have gripped our imagination around the world. Now, mobility is set for the greatest change since the invention of the internal combustion engine. People see the rise of driverless cars in a variety of ways, from the excitement of new possibilities and eagerness to try them to fears over lack of control and outright scepticism.

GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) was an £8m research project that aimed to understand and overcome the technical, legal and social challenges of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment.

The Royal College of Art led the public engagement work stream and our team included designers and researchers from The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre.

We explored the public’s attitude towards driverless technology in an effort to understand how their preconceptions of autonomous vehicles might be taken into account in the design of future vehicles, services and infrastructure; with a focus on the views of Londoners and London’s urban environment. 

Key details

Gallery

  • Isolation pods - a post pandemic future?

    Isolation pods - a post pandemic future?

  • That car took my job - a dystopian future?

    That car took my job - a dystopian future?

  • A future London where driverless vehicles have changed the city and how we live in it

    A future London where driverless vehicles have changed the city and how we live in it

  • A mobile playground created as part of our student design programme

    A mobile playground created as part of our student design programme

  • Design workshop with people who have additional needs

    Design workshop with people who have additional needs including those who are deaf, blind, and have physical impediments

  • Trialing future journeys - a party with friends, a future commute

    Trialing future journeys - a party with friends, a future commute

  • A future bus created by members of the public as part of our public engagement programme

    A future bus created by members of the public as part of our public engagement programme

  • A future interchange based around a variety of driverless vehicles developed as part of our final publication

    A future interchange based around a variety of driverless vehicles developed as part of our final publication

More information

The Intelligent Mobility Design Centre and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design were part of the GATEway consortium that aimed to understand and overcome the technical, legal and societal challenges of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment, centred around public trials of autonomous vehicles in Greenwich. 

We explored the public’s attitude towards driverless technology in an effort to understand how their preconceptions of autonomous vehicles might be taken into account in the design of future vehicles, services and infrastructure; with a focus on the views of Londoners and London’s urban environment.

Between 2016 and 2017 we carried out desk research, interviewed experts, ran a series of pre-trial workshops with members of the public; held an interactive exhibition on driverless futures at the London Transport Museum; and carried out a number of group activities inside an autonomous shuttle on the Greenwich peninsula, where we prototyped future commutes, shopping trips and leisure journeys.

We used this research to understand the role of design in increasing the acceptance and adoption of driverless vehicles in urban environments; what are people’s hopes and fears, and their needs and aspirations, and how might they shape a driverless future?

Our final publication sets out to answer these questions by sharing stories from future Londoners, the services that they will use, the vehicles that will support them on their journeys and the impact that these will have on our city’s infrastructure and environment.

We set these stories in 2035 , when autonomous technology will be available and we describe a preferable future that meets people’s needs and aspirations while taking into account the environmental, social and economic challenges that cities will face.

We share design patterns that communities and organisations should consider when developing future autonomous mobility services, vehicles and infrastructure.

We also set out potential road maps towards this driverless future, indicating who might benefit most from autonomy; which services will be most acceptable; how the environment and infrastructure of the city might adapt to provide benefits for every Londoner; while creating a pathway for universal autonomous mobility that provides citizens with social, environmental and economic benefits including safer streets, more inclusive environments, and cleaner and calmer cityscapes where people, rather than vehicles, are put at the figurative centre of our public and civic space.

Finally, we describe the research methods that we used to reach these conclusions and further research opportunities that arise from this work.

We used people-centred design research techniques to listen to and engage with a diverse range of people including drivers and non-drivers, experts and members of the general public as well as people with additional needs. 

The methods used by the Royal College of Art researchers on GATEway comprised:

  • Workshops including interviews and co-design activities with a range of users and potential users
  • Interviews with users of test vehicles
  • Exhibitions involving engagement activities with the public and experts
  • Design, including aspects of experience design, service design and urban design as well as designing vehicles and future mobility platforms. 

Designing within GATEway was about creating stimuli and provocations, as a means of understanding users’ reactions and alternative ideas, rather than designing 'solutions'.

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Piccadilly Circus Dawn UTOPIA REVIEW PROOF

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